Eilat (Israel), Dec 13 (MNN) Harnaaz Sandhu, a 21-year-old from Punjab in India, has been crowned the new Miss Universe 2021.
She represented India at the 70th Miss Universe 2021 here, bringing home the crown 21 years after actress Lara Dutta won the title in 2000.
Actress Sushmita Sen earlier won the title of Miss Universe for India in 1994.
Harnaaz edged out contestants from Paraguay and South Africa to claim the crown. She was presented the crown by Andrea Meza, former Miss Universe 2020 from Mexico at the event which was live-streamed globally.
Miss Paraguay Nadia Ferreira, 22, came second, followed by Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane, 24.
During the final question and answer round, Sandhu was asked what advice she would give to young women on how to deal with the pressure they face today. “The biggest pressure the youth of today is facing is to believe in themselves, to know that you are unique and that’s what makes you beautiful. Stop comparing yourselves with others and let’s talk about more important things that’s happening worldwide.
“This is what you need to understand. Come out, speak for yourselves because you are the leader of your life, you are the voice of your own. I believed in myself and that’s why I am standing here today,” she said
The ceremony was hosted by Steve Harvey and saw performances from American singer JoJo.
The selection committee included actor and Miss Universe India 2015 Urvashi Rautela, Adamari Lopez, Adriana Lima, Cheslie Kryst, Iris Mittenaere, Lori Harvey, Marian Rivera and Rena Sofer.
Born and raised in Punjab, Harnaaz attended Shivalik Public School and Postgraduate Government College for Girls, both in Chandigarh. The diva is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration.
Harnaaz began competing in pageantry at the age of 17 and won titles such as Miss Chandigarh 2017 and Miss Max Emerging Star India 2018. She later won the LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2021 title.
In 2019, she won the title of Femina Miss India Punjab 2019 after which she competed in Femina Miss India. She was in the top 12 in Femina Miss India.
Now Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu will reside in New York and participate in a number of events globally.
Former Miss Universe Lara Dutta also congratulated her on the win.
“Congratulations @HarnaazSandhu03 !!!! Welcome to the club!!! We’ve waited 21 long years for this!!! You make us SO SO proud!!! A billion dreams come true!!!”
Delhi Women’s Commission Chair Swati Maliwal tweeted: “So proud of Chandigarh’s Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu who bagged the #MissUniverse2021 title in Israel. Way to go Punjabi girl! Your finesse, poise and beauty is inspiring!”